Tyson Foods: a lesson in religious tolerance, community relations

September 15, 2008 - by: Diversity Insight 1 COMMENTS

Tyson Foods is going a long way toward making employees of all religious persuasions happy. At least that’s the case at its plant in Shelbyville, Tennessee. About 700 of the 1,200 employees there came to the United States as political refugees from Somalia, and most of those 700 employees are Muslim.

Recently, the Tyson plant’s union voted to trade a paid Labor Day holiday for Eid al-Fitr, the religious holiday marking the end of Ramadan, a month-long Muslim religious observance.

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Categories: Feature / Ideas for Leaders

Rodney Martin: more productive than a full diversity committee

August 18, 2008 - by: Diversity Insight 0 COMMENTS

Most law firms approach diversity from a committee approach (see the “Diversity Trends” article for proof), if at all. A few years ago, Warner Norcross & Judd LLP decided that method wasn’t working. The firm, one of the largest in Michigan, named Rodney Martin its diversity partner in 2006 and gave him the authority and responsibility to develop policies and programs that would make the 210-attorney firm a more diverse, inclusive, and welcoming organization.

“As our firm expands beyond Michigan to play in a more global marketplace, we realize the business has changed — as have the expectations of our clients,” Martin says. “As a firm, we identified diversity as a critical element in the path to our future success and decided that we would become champions of diversity.”

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Categories: Feature

From the ADA to returning soldiers to work: Richard Pimentel’s crusade for the disabled

July 21, 2008 - by: Diversity Insight 1 COMMENTS

From the ADA to returning soldiers to work

Earlier this month, the country celebrated it’s 232rd birthday. We celebrated with fireworks, picnics, and parades to honor our veterans who have fought in wars past and the soldiers who are currently abroad fighting for our country. This month also marks the 18th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). What do those two things have in common? To answer that question, we introduce you to Richard Pimentel.

After coming back from the Vietnam War with significant hearing loss, Pimentel became an unlikely hero in the “silent” civil rights movement, which focused on affording people with disabilities the same rights as those without, and his work would become a cornerstone for the creation of the ADA. Eventually, he naturally progressed to the workers’ compensation field.

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Categories: Feature

Harrah’s chief diversity officer redefines inclusion

June 16, 2008 - by: Diversity Insight 1 COMMENTS

Traditionally, companies have thought that diversity is all about race and gender. Nowhere is that more the case than in the hospitality industry, which, in many jurisdictions, is held to certain legal standards.

But Fred Keeton didn’t want to just meet those standards. As Harrah’s Entertainment’s chief diversity officer, he has spent the past three years attempting to revolutionize the concept of diversity and, in the process, demonstrate to senior management that inclusion is the key to business survival. “So many professionals are caught up in the old way of thinking about diversity,” he says. “They have not even taken their definition of inclusion beyond the politically correct attachment solely to identity.”

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Categories: Feature

Harrah’s chief diversity officer redefines inclusion

June 16, 2008 - by: Celeste Duke 1 COMMENTS

Traditionally, companies have thought that diversity is all about race and gender. Nowhere is that more the case than in the hospitality industry, which, in many jurisdictions, is held to certain legal standards.

But Fred Keeton didn’t want to just meet those standards. As Harrah’s Entertainment’s chief diversity officer, he has spent the past three years attempting to revolutionize the concept of diversity and, in the process, demonstrate to senior management that inclusion is the key to business survival. “So many professionals are caught up in the old way of thinking about diversity,” he says. “They have not even taken their definition of inclusion beyond the politically correct attachment solely to identity.”

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Categories: Feature

Honor your mothers and fathers: Avoid family responsibility discrimination

May 18, 2008 - by: Diversity Insight 0 COMMENTS

Mother’s Day has just passed, and Father’s Day is coming up, so what better time to talk about family responsibility discrimination (FRD)? According to a University of California Hastings College of the Law study, the number of FRD cases being filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) jumped almost 500 percent between 1971 and 2005. FRD happens when employers discriminate against employees based on stereotypes of family caregiving responsibilities.

Your supervisors and managers know that they can’t discriminate against employees based on stereotypes of sex, race, age, gender, religion, pregnancy, or disability (they do know that, right?). However, they may not realize that it’s FRD to assume, for instance, that a mother with three small children won’t want to travel for work or that a man would need to take time off to care for elderly parents. Since there’s no federal law expressly prohibiting FRD, employees claiming FRD traditionally have tied their claims to another form of discrimination (mainly gender).

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Categories: Feature

Economy and talent drought may force widespread diversity

April 21, 2008 - by: Diversity Insight 1 COMMENTS

Surprise, surprise: Leaders of international executive search firm Epsen Fuller have noticed severe deficits in diversity at the executive level. And they know of what they speak: The firm is the U.S. member of IMD International Search and Consulting, the 14th largest executive search firm network in the world. The firm’s own research reveals that only 10 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are women. Among the chief financial officers — a pool for CEO talent — women represent a measly 10 percent in Fortune 1,000 companies. And when it comes to minorities in the top ranks, the numbers dilute even more: Only four percent of minorities are in executive positions.

However Thomas Fuller, director of the Americas and general managing partner at Epsen Fuller/IMD, says that might end in the near future — not necessarily for the right reasons, but because necessity is the mother of, er, integration. He says companies are already asking for a more diverse slate of candidates as the baby boomer generation gears for retirement; the trend will continue, he predicts, eventually giving firms little choice but to consider minorities and women for senior positions.

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Categories: Feature

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